Transwoman Kills Influencer

La Mama

La Mama Theatre
27 Jan – 04 Feb
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A murder mystery with a difference, Transwoman Kills Influencer pits four colourful and flawed characters against each other. This hardly has the niceties of the world’s longest running staged whodunnit, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Rather, it is audacious in its extreme characterisations. Gender politics and prejudice play a part in proceedings. Transwoman Kills Influencer combines live action with pre-recorded video (police and TV current affairs interviews), with the former taking the lion’s share. It seems that cocaine is freely available to all the key characters in this production and most readily partake.

Photos by Darren Gill

Alejandro (Vateresio Tuikaba) is a self-absorbed and shady influencer, responsible for several accounts at public relations and marketing agency CC&D. He has just met his demise and his associates are all suspects. Each of them has their say on why they aren’t the guilty party. What appears most relevant is that there was a power struggle at CC&D. Its newly appointed general manager is transwoman Denise (Dax Carnay), recipient of the Businesswoman of the Year award. Denise is married to Tim, who we don’t see, but accounts suggest Denise has been enjoying some extracurricular activity with Alejandro, who is smitten by her. Denise, too, is accused of corrupt business practices, including bribery, to curry favour.

Filled with anger at Denise’s appointment is her subordinate Jen (Khema De Silva), who feels she was far more deserving of the position. And now her outrage is exacerbated because the business is about to lose a significant client – one that has brought to market reusable menstrual cups. The reason given is that Denise is not a biological woman, has never menstruated and wouldn’t know what women go through. Jen calls on Denise to tender her resignation to the board and allow her to take over, but much to her chagrin, Denise refuses to do so.

Jen also has a spiteful relationship with Denise’s decidedly camp executive assistant, Bryle (Ryan Henry), who spits vitriol at her whenever he can. The question is who has the motive to knock off Alejandro and even if there was reason enough, who would actually do so? Written by Dax Carnay and directed by Emmanuelle Mattana, I liked the concept behind Transwoman Kills Influencer and the exaggerated performances of the cast. The characters are a motley bunch and I felt like taking a shower after being introduced to them. Of course, that is the whole point.

I thought the staging and lighting set the scene well. As we enter the theatre, the four key characters are doing their thing – pumping iron, talking on mobiles, snorting coke and just hanging about – behind vertical blinds. Much of the action subsequently takes place in front of those blinds, on the couch, which represents Denise’s home. The costuming and make up are a hoot and add to the spectacle. I found the play intriguing, but at times the convolutions were difficult to follow. Some of the content could have been made clearer, including providing more background information on each of the characters. The truth is I wanted to care more about them and become more invested in their respective journeys.

The audio on much of the video material was of a poor quality. It sounded distorted and was hard on the ears. And then there was the issue of repetition, which – to an extent – is expected when you have different perspectives of what went down, but there was too much of it. A clever writer can minimise that and still get their point across. So, Transwoman Kills Influencer meets the outrageous tag suggested by its title, but is not totally satisfying. With work, it could be improved and that would allow it to hang together better. It is playing at La Mama as part of Midsumma until 4th February, 2024.

Alex First

Alex First

Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little. Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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